Lights, Camera, Crucifixion! (Godsmacked, Part 4/4)

Lights, Camera, Crucifixion! (Godsmacked, Part 4/4) March 18, 2019

Through the dark arts of subtitling, forum member ssj breathes new life into Jesus’s death. Mel Gibson’s godsploitation flick, The Passion of the Christ, finds itself beset on all sides by humanistic questions and the blasphemy of snarky men. Meanwhile, ssj shepherds the skeptical through the valley of deicidal madness to find Jesus’s character arc. Today, we eagerly devour the last part of…. Godsmacked.

(Grant Whitty.) Not shown: passion, actual historical events.

(Click these links to find Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Now I’ll let ssj take it away!)

Hey, all! Welcome to the final installment of Godsmacked. In this last part, Jesus tells a spanking-new parable, popularizes a torture rack, and sort of makes friends in midair. Jesus finally figures out what Jesus would do. Yea, verily, Pops will not be happy.

The Evolution Creation of a Fanedit.

Before we get to the conclusion of the story, let me share a bit of background on how the edit came to be. The Passion of the Christ stained theaters in February 2004. About a year later, I borrowed the DVD from my Christian sister to see for myself what the controversy was about—the overload of violence, the contemptuous portrayal of Jews.

The bloodletting was over the top and not my cup of tea (or godsblood) at all. The movie felt cold–sterile. And the disciples weren’t too impressive, though the story wasn’t about them. There were some fantasy elements that I thought were well done, such as the demon that scared the bejesus out of Judas, and Jesus’s convo with Satan. With different subtitles, I thought, this could be turned into a decent fantasy film.

Years would pass before I gave serious consideration to that idea.

By 2011, I had discovered the world of fanedits

People create fanedits by fixing movies (e.g., by removing unnecessary scenes or subplots) or mixing them (e.g., this brilliant edit that combines Superman: The Movie and Superman II and excises many of the flaws of the first movie). Think of fanedits as similar to musical remixes. In that sense, studio-released movies become the raw material that fans use to remix. And once personal computers became advanced enough, suddenly professional-level video editing was no longer the sole domain of professionals.

While putting together my first fanedit, a comedic reworking of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon via subtitles, my thoughts turned to my next project. What if I rewrote the subs to The Passion of the Christ? I mentioned the idea to a small number of fellow faneditors. They thought it would result in great fun and heartily encouraged me.

The idea sat with me a few years longer.

The Origin Story.

One of my earlier and misguided thoughts about rewriting the story was to make it allegorical. The characters would have all-new names. The religion would be similar to but not quite Christianity. That way, I could make fun of Christianity without naming Christianity!

But WTF was I thinking? Of course Christianity had to ridiculed directly. Further, it would be easier for me to work with established characters and an established theology. More, the allegorical alternate story would be impractical to write. Its already-sparse dialogue left little room to construct from scratch a substitute story world and make fun of it.

Over and over again for about a year, I watched parts of the original movie without the original subs. In this way, I could avoid as much as possible the influence of the original script as I wrote my own dialogue possibilities based on the characters’ situations, facial expressions, and vocal tones. Sometimes, on the very first try, I hit upon dialogue that would go unchanged for the remainder of the project, but for other lines, I might have written 20 to 30 alternatives before encountering a satisfactory solution.

The creative process turned out to involve some degree of masochism, primarily the repeat exposure to the brutality of the source material. But that’s sometimes how the comedy sausage is made. Think of all the poor bastards and bastardettes working for nightly comedy shows who have to watch heaps of Fox News to make fun of Fox News.

The Abridging of the Christ.

It didn’t take too many viewings to figure out what I’d edit away: sickening stretches of ultraviolence. How does one watch this movie and not think to oneself, God have moissy—Gibson likes himself wheelbarrows of sadism.

And the miracles—oh, God, the miracles. Those had to go.

Naturally, some souls will slip through his hands.

So the movie started at a chunky and blood-soaked 127 minutes and ended up a more tolerable 72 minutes. By early 2016, after a year of effort—in my spare time, mind you—I had an alternate version of the movie that was about as merrily blasphemous as I had hoped. The result was something I hesitated calling a fanedit, as that term would imply I was a fan of the source material.

However, it remains my ardent hope that Mel Gibson will incorporate this faith-based edit as a supplement on the 25th anniversary re-release (or rebirth) of The Passion of the Christ. Hallelujah and amen.

The Other Hand Flusheth Away.

For your viewing pleasure, these have been removed from the last segment of Godsmacked:

  • Roman soldiers being dicks to Simon of Cyrene
  • the Virgin Mary, the other Mary, and Jesus’s human brother James arriving at Golgotha
  • Jesus getting his left hand nailed, shoulder dislocated, and right hand nailed
  • the miracle of the floating cross, which only Mary Magdalene seems to notice, and which is ultimately inconsequential, since Jesus is crucified anyway
  • much of the cross-raising scene, which is shot in a fetishistic manner and served with a crude drenching of triumphant music soldiers gambling
  • Virgin Mama nastily kissing Jesus’s very bloody feet
  • Jesus sucking water from a sponge on spear tip, courtesy of a sympathetic soldier who is nearly blind, so why is he holding a spear?
  • God shedding a gangsta tear for his mark, Jesus
  • Jesus’s death resulting in earthquakes, Jewish temple damage, and equine fright
  • the breaking of the thieves’ legs—you didn’t have to go there, Mel
  • dead Jesus’s bodily fluids healing the near-blindness of a Roman centurion, who—if nearly blind—probably shouldn’t be a centurion
  • head honcho Pharisee crying over property damage, plus or minus knowing that God now favors Mel Gibson’s religion
  • the Jesus takedown
  • Mama Mary holding dead son and looking straight at the camera as if to accuse you (or the cameraman) of Jesus’s death
  • tomb opening on its own or by the hand of angels or God or other beings difficult to capture on film
  • Jesus’s shroud deflating just as sunlight streams into the tomb—take that, shroud
  • Jesus looking wholly healed. . . except for the stigmata—those do not fucking heal over a weekend; and
  • undead Jesus busting loose from the crypt.

Here It Is!

And here it is, the final installment of Why One Doesn’t Mess with Rome, Ancient Judea Edition. Please listen closely for homophones and consider sticking with the credits to catch mention of a certain space princess, without whose hospitality we wouldn’t be here. Thanks for watching.

Godsmacked, Part 5! (Here’s the super-secret case-sensitive password: r2d)

Last of all, much gratitude to Monica Bellucci for delicately working with actual Jesus way back when.

Disclaimer: Fair use laws allow for the use of copyrighted work for the purposes of criticism and commentary. In this case, the subtitles completely alter the meaning of the original work, The Passion of the Christ. In order to edit the film and present the transmogrification, I purchased a legitimate, studio-released Blu-ray of the film.

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This post is an off topic wonderland!

About Captain Cassidy
Captain Cassidy grew up fervently Catholic, converted to the SBC in her teens, and became a Pentecostal shortly afterward. She even married an aspiring preacher! But then--record scratch!--she brought everything to a screeching halt when she deconverted in her mid-20s. That was 25 years ago. Now a comfortable None, she blogs on Roll to Disbelieve about psychology, pop culture, politics, relationships, cats, gaming, and more--and where they all intersect with religion. You can read more about the author here.

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